The lecture series Black Classicism– Moving Forward began in September 2020 and is co-sponsored by the Core Curriculum, the Department of Classical Studies, and the Department of African American and Black Diaspora Studies. This lecture series is designed to engage with and critique the ancient world from the perspective of Black authors, artists, and thinkers.
Lectures are open to all faculty and graduate students and draw attendees from throughout New England. About one lecture is held each semester. If you wish to be put on the mailing list or if you have further questions, please contact us at email@example.com or 617-353-2427.
Presenters for 2023-2024 include:
Sonia Sabnis (Reed College)
Friday, November 10th, 2023. 4:30pm EST
CAS 224, 725 Commonwealth Ave
Topic: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Citationality of Ancient Greece & Rome
Abstract: Du Bois’ interest in and use of sources from ancient Greece and Rome has been a hot topic in recent years, evidenced by a special volume of the International Journal of the Classical Tradition (2019) and a conference at Penn State (2021). In the concluding essay of the former, Patrice Rankine noted “the need to postpone the word citation, given the difficulty of locating Du Bois’ exact sources of influence” and the accompanying turn to Gates’s theory of “Signifyin(g).” In this lecture, I use archival resources to survey Du Bois’ citations of ancient Greece and Rome. While citations of Greek and Roman sources are minimal features within Du Bois’ enormous oeuvre, they are prominent in his understanding of history and humanism in education. At the same time, Du Bois’ classical references suggest an ironic relationship to the citationality of Greece and Rome in mainstream white media, one that is supported by more acerbic writings by Du Bois’ NAACP colleague (and Yale classics major) William Pickens. Du Bois and Pickens’ particular brand of citation adds breadth to our understanding of exclusionary practices of the past.
Presenters for 2022-2023 include:
Dominic Machado (College of the Holy Cross)
Tuesday, March 14th, 2023. 5:30pm EST, (Zoom)
Topic: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Classics: A Model For A More Just Field?
This talk examines Martin Luther King’s use of classical allusions in order to understand how he envisioned the Greco-Roman world as part of the larger march towards justice. It argues that while King was often critical of classical values, his sermons also offer several new ways that classics and classical philology can be used in the fight for a more just society. In addition to reflecting on King’s classicism, this talk reflects on how King’s use of the classics, driven by its moral aims and universalizing humanity, offers a potential guide for the future of the field of Greco-Roman studies.
Rosa Andújar (King’s College)
Wednesday, November 9, 2022. 5:30pm EST
Topic: Dionysus in the Caribbean: Appropriating Ancient Greek Theatre in the American “Mediterranean” Sea
This lecture examines the afterlife of ancient Greek drama across the globe, with a focus on the Hispanic Caribbean. It first discusses the “global turn” in Classical Reception Studies and some of the challenges that have emerged regarding the alleged universality of Greco-Roman “classical” texts, especially in non-European contexts. It then turns to the way playwrights in Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico appropriated Greek drama across the twentieth century to explore controversial issues related to politics and racial identity. Analyzing the afterlives of ancient drama in the distinctive climate of the Hispanic Caribbean enables us to interrogate the complex resonances of ancient Greek drama today.
Presenters for 2021-2022 include:
Mathias Hanses (Penn State University)
Thursday, March 3, 2022. 5:30pm
In Person: George Sherman Union 239 – Terrace Lounge
Topic: Cicero with Local Applications: W. E. B. Du Bois’ Views of the Ancient Mediterranean at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.
Professor Hanses researches modern receptions of ancient materials, and especially in Black Classicism. His current book project, under contract with Oxford University Press, focuses on W. E. B. Du Bois’ engagement with the works of Marcus Tullius Cicero. It is tentatively titled Black Cicero: W. E. B. Du Bois, the Ancient Romans, and the Future of Classical Scholarship.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Patrice Rankine (University of Chicago)
Wednesday, December 1, 2021. 5:30pm
Topic: The Classics, Race, and Community-Engaged or Public Scholarship
Presenters for 2020-2021 include:
Nicole Spigner (Northwestern University)
Tuesday, April 6, 2021. 5:30pm
Topic: “Niobe in Noir”: The Poetry of Phillis Wheatley and H. Cordelia Ray
Emily Greenwood (Yale University)
Monday, October 26, 2021, 5:30pm
Topic: “Black Classical Philology: Writing back to a deadly metaphor in Aristotle’s Politics“. Based on material from her current book project, Black Classicisms and the Expansion of the Classical Tradition.
Margaret Malamud (New Mexico State University)
Monday, October 19, 2021, 5:30pm
Topic: “‘Her brown hands bore me alabaster smooth’: Sculpting Cleopatra in Stone and Word.” Based on a poem by Tyehimba Jess about the 19th-century sculptor, Edmonia Lewis and her piece, “The Death of Cleopatra.”